victor juhasz, larry's biggest mistake, carribean fragoza
Victor Juhasz

Larry a big guy, half Black, half Mexican living in Montebello. He was big and he was Black, which already makes everything way harder around here.

What really fucked him up was that when he came in as a freshman he was so big that the Varsity football coach pulled him into the team with all the seniors and juniors.

Everyone gave Larry shit because he was big and he was Black and he was a freshman. Everyone was testing Larry. Wanted to see what he was made of. The guys on the Varsity team always picked on him and talked shit to him. Larry didn’t take shit from no one. He didn’t give a shit. He was like, Fuck you, whenever they talked shit, called him the n-word.

Eventually, he got sent back to JV cuz he couldn’t hang. He was big but he just couldn’t hang. Everyone really picked on him after that, talked even more shit.

This is what really fucked Larry up. It just confirmed everything everyone was saying to him. But Larry was a real tough guy. They’d talk shit to him and he’d just keep it all inside. Didn’t say anything.

But when he was with us, he’d snap right away. Anything would set him off. For anything he’d be like, Fuck you, fuck you. Just looking for any little thing to get pissed off about and talk shit to us. And we’d be like, Relax, Larry, it’s not our fault you couldn’t hang with the Varsity team. And he’d be like, Aw fuck you, fuck you guys.

This is what really fucked up Larry.

The thing about Larry is that he has a really short temper. It’s about this big.

I don’t know what you believe or think about this but I believe that most of us are born the way we are, about 85 percent. We’re born that way. The rest is the stuff we live through, the way we grow up.

Larry was born with this much temper. That’s what fucked Larry up.

But Larry made his biggest mistake when he was a junior. He went ahead and got his girlfriend pregnant, a freshman. Barely a freshman, just out of middle school. Larry lived on this one block in Montebello near Arry’s (by the way, the best pastrami ever). He lived on that block where like 10 guys from Montebello High School went. Larry, Josh, Mike, Joe, Raymond, Chris, John, Eddy… This girl, Sylvia, lived right across the street. All these apartment complexes on that street. Everyone lived there.

Biggest mistake: he gets this girl pregnant. He makes it just fine through high school, graduates with flying colors, just on the right track. The girl totally flunks out. Just flunks right out in her freshman year. Never graduates. Just totally falls out of it. And I mean, come on, lots of girls get pregnant, she’s not the first to have a baby in high school. Just graduate already, just do it. But she flunked right out. Not even a high school freshman education. Come on. But Larry, he was fine, he kept it together real good. Excellent father. Graduated on time, he was in great shape. The girl and the baby moved in with him and his grandparents. He signed up for the Explorers, you know, like with the police department. We musta been 20, 21. He was going to be a police officer. He was doing his service hours, was getting ready to get trained, go to the academy, they were going to pay for it. He had things all set.

He had six hours, OK, six hours to complete his service. Explorers gotta do so many hours. He coulda knocked those out those six in one day. I said, Larry, you coulda knocked those out in one day if you really wanted. One afternoon, come in at eight in the morning, be done by two and that’s it. Larry’s like, Yeah, I know I know.

So Larry comes home one day after his Explorers thing. He comes home and finds the baby and his girl gone. Oh shit, what the fuck. So he goes across the street to John’s house and knocks. No answer. He goes to the front window and looks inside and there’s his baby in the carrier all by herself. What the fuck.

Beautiful baby, loved his baby girl. So he was like, What the fuck. Already he’s all fucking pissed. You know Larry. So he goes around the house to one of the bedroom windows and looks inside. And there’s John getting busy with some girl. Larry’s like, What the fuck are you doing here with this girl while my baby’s alone in the other room. So John’s like, Uh I don’t know. Sylvia asked me to take care of the baby while she went out.

So Larry’s fucking pissed because John’s not watching the baby and here he is with this girl. And he’s pissed cuz, Why did Sylvia ask you? Why didn’t she ask me to watch the baby? John was like, I don’t know. Sylvia said she was going to go somewhere, if I could just watch her.

So Larry takes his baby, all pissed back to his house. And soon his girl shows up, and she’s all fucking pissed like, Why’dya take the baby? And Larry was like, Shut up. Whatever. He didn’t even want to deal with this shit.

Larry already knew she was seeing someone else. He knew exactly who the guy was and where he lived. At that point they weren’t really together anymore, even though they were living together, so she’d been seeing this other guy.

Larry swears up and down that this girl Sylvia forgot her keys over there at that guy’s house and that he was just going to pick them up for her. I think Larry just lost it at that point. He just lost it, I’m sure.

He gets to the guy’s house and he’s like, What the fuck. He’s all pissed off.

Larry tells the guy to come out of the house. Let’s take it outside. And the guy’s like, No no no, and Sylvia’s somehow inside his house now, looking out all scared from behind him. She was scared to come out.

And Larry’s like, Let’s fucking handle this, let’s fucking handle this, to the guy.

The guy makes the mistake of telling Larry to Get the fuck off my fucking porch.

Big mistake with Larry, the way he is.

Larry swears up and down the guy pushed him first so Larry goes off. I mean, imagine. Larry.

Makes the biggest fucking mistake of his life. Biggest fucking mistake. He lunges right at the guy and into the house. So now he’s inside the house. The girl’s all scared, runs to hide. He’s beating the shit out of this guy.

So next thing he knows he hears the cops calling behind him. He’s out on the street putting his hands in the air and he turns around. The entire Montebello P.D. behind him. The guy’s mom had called the police saying that someone had broken into their house and was killing her son.

So my friend Larry’s faced with charges for burglary cuz he came inside the house. They consider it burglary when you come inside the house. With attempted manslaughter and who knows what else.

While Larry’s standing there with all the cops on the street and his hands still in the air, he hears one of the cops making a report, giving the code for domestic abuse. He tells the cop, What was that for?

The cop was like, What?

Larry was like, For domestic violence. I didn’t even touch the girl.

The cop was surprised and was like, How do you know the code? And Larry’s like, I’m about to finish the Explorers. I’m going to train to be a cop. The cop was like, Oh shit.

The report said he didn’t touch the girl and that the guy pushed him first. The report actually said that, they wrote it down. Sylvia’s guy admitted it to the cops and everything, her dude was the first to throw a blow.

They take Larry to jail and he’s telling them all what happened. Explaining. He tells them he’s about to finish the Explorers program and that he’s going to be a cop. Someone says to him, You ain’t doing no such thing. Burglary and attempted manslaughter are felonies, son. You can’t be a cop with felonies on your record. Misdemeanors, OK. But you got felonies on your ass.

And this is when Larry really begins to worry. Six hours. He was six hours short.

They tell him, You can leave now, but you’ll have these felonies on you. Or you can go to county and see if they’ll bump it down to misdemeanors.

I can’t have a felony, Larry tells them. So they bus him out to county. There they tell him, Yeah we can have another judge review your case, but you’re going to have to wait.

How long?

Six weeks.

Six weeks?!

victor juhasz, larry's biggest mistake, carribean fragoza
Victor Juhasz

Larry waited six weeks. He could NOT have a felony. Six weeks in county, waiting. We used to go visit him, be like, What’s up Larry!

Sylvia used to go visit him too.

Six weeks are up, he gets a county defender. They put all the information together: the guy pushed him first, Larry’s an Explorer, can’t have a felony, didn’t even touch the girl. The day of, they hand it all over to the judge. He looks over it, looks over each page. OK, uh huh, uh huh, alright, OK. Puts the papers down and says, OK, these are all felonies. The end.

The public defender, right away rubs his hands together turns to shake Larry’s hand and is like, OK, there it is. It’s done.

And Larry’s like, Whatwhatwhat? That’s it?

That’s all.

I can’t have a felony, I’m going to be a cop. Aren’t you a lawyer? Aren’t you supposed to explain things to the judge, let him know it wasn’t my fault? Aren’t you supposed to say things in a way that I can’t to help me?

The lawyer’s like, Nope there’s nothing else to do. Laters.

Larry’s like, No, there’s gotta be something I can do.

They say, No, son.

Three years later, Larry calls me up at 5:30 a.m. and’s like, Pick me up.

I go and there’s Larry out front with all the other guys that get released. I tell him what happened? He says, I got a felony, I can’t be a cop no more. Take me to the market.

I take him to a Ralphs nearby and he buys a bunch of shit. Shampoo, toothpaste and shit.

It’s dirty in there, he says.

Where do you want to go? I say.

Sylvia’s house.

Sylvia’s house? I say. You must be kidding me. After everything!

Take me to fucking Sylvia’s house.

So I do. They hate each other’s guts. They have another baby.

Carribean Fragoza is a writer and artist from South El Monte, California.